Issue
Spring/Summer
2007
Volume
20
Issue
1
Contact
Cornell University
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At Cornell

Pioneering the Science of Metabolomics
for Better Diagnostics and Disease Treatment

Machine

Metabolon, Inc.

Kristal and Ryals

(l. to r) Bruce Kristal, John Ryals, CEO

Studies on predicting the risk of obesity and age-related diseases launched Metabolon, Inc., a start-up company pioneering the application of the science of metabolomics toward the development of new or better diagnostics and treatments for diseases, located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Metabolomics is the study of the metabolome, the collection of all the small molecular substances produced by the body. Some examples of these substances, known as metabolites, are glucose, cholesterol, creatine, and fatty acids.

Throughout his career, Bruce Kristal, Weill Cornell Medical College, Neuroscience, has been working to understand what makes dietary or caloric restriction (defined as “undernutrition without malnutrition”) the most potent and reproducible way to increase life span and reduce morbidity in laboratory mammals and to use this model for predicting diseases. Since caloric restriction affects the body’s whole metabolic network, he knew he had to develop a way to study all the metabolites in a sample in order to find the collective changes due to dietary restriction. Obtaining a sample’s metabolite profile was technically difficult. It required the separation and detection of metabolites—humans make about 2,500 such substances—and a way to analyze the massive amounts of data obtained. Kristal and his colleagues developed effective methods in his dietary restriction experiments with rats.

 

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